BOSTON--Investigators at McGill University, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Womens Hospital have identified insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1) as a possible high-risk factor for prostate cancer.
A comparison of blood samples from 152 men in the Physicians Health Study who developed prostate cancer and 152 controls who did not showed that the prostate cancer patients had higher
IGF-1 levels. The 25% of men with the highest IGF-1 levels were 4.3 times more likely to develop prostate cancer than the men with the lowest IGF-1 levels.
The blood samples were collected an average of 7 years prior to the mens prostate cancer diagnosis, suggesting that, in most instances, the men did not have prostate cancer at the time the samples were drawn. This further suggests that high concentrations of IGF-1 may be a causative factor in the development of prostate cancer rather than just a marker of the presence of the disease.
The findings were published in the January 23, 1998, issue of the journal Science.